GAA Handball All Ireland Semi Finals Preview
Written by Antoin Ó Braoin, Rúnaí Contae
Its a big weekend for five Wexford handballers who are in action against Ulster opposition this coming Saturday at the penultimate stage of this years GAA Handball All Ireland 60×30 championship. Three will enjoy the comforts of ‘home’ against their northern opponents while another two will make the long trip to Loughmacrory, County Tyrone in search of a place in the All Ireland final.
All Wexford players are faced with a difficult task this weekend but none more so than Paul Lambert who takes on the up and coming Conor McElduff, Tyrone in what could be a pulsating Junior Singles clash at Loughmacrory. McElduff who was the Tyrone handballer of the year in 2013, has had a terrific season in both 40×20 and Wall Ball and by all accounts has brought this form into the bigger 60×30 court. Lambert though has been at this stage of the championship for three of the last four years and he will not be found wanting when the going gets tough.
At the same venue Robert Doyle faces up to Tony McElduff, father of the aforementioned Conor, and this Silver
Masters B Singles tie has all the makings of a terrific clash. Doyle is returning to the courts after a long break from the game and has been impressive throughout a tough provincial campaign. He takes on an opponent with a big reputation but this nephew of the late great John Doyle is a tough battler too and he will relish the challenge.
The Loughmacrory programmes gets underway at 2pm.
The Castlebridge programme also starts at 2pm and the opening match sees Miley Connors, Wexford take on Mark Marley, Donegal in the Junior B Singles. Little is known about Marley but he arrives in Wexford as Ulster champion and and that entitles him to be treated with respect and caution. Connors has played really well to this stage of the championship and irrespective of any opposition, he goes into this as favourite to go all the way this year.
The Masters B clash of John Roche, Wexford and Michael Clerkin, Monaghan is hard to call also with both players comparatively new to this stage of the championship. Roche has enjoyed a really good season though and is in great shape for a serious attempt at this title. With home advantage he will be hard to beat.
All of Wexford and indeed many in handball will be rooting for Stephen Murphy this coming weekend as he again seeks a place in the All Ireland final. This perennial challenger is due a change of fortune after many years of chasing that elusive All Ireland winners medal.
His task at Castlebridge will be difficult with the experienced Conor Kerr, Tyrone in the opposite corner but Murphy is nothing if not resilient and he will give it his all as usual.
All in all then another brilliant weekend of 60×30 handball is in store for everyone at Castlebridge and Loughmacrory as well as several other venues around Ireland. This much maligned softball code continues to defy those who predict its demise and the plethora of outstanding games already witnessed in our provincial championships looks certain to be matched or even surpassed in the coming weeks as the summer season winds to a close.
With the sun shining outside and terrific 60×30 handball going on inside, how could life possibly get any better!